As the city struggles to make ends meet -- cops need to be hired, city workers will likely be fired, and fire companies are already going on daylong hiatuses to save money -- it's been hard to find a hero at City Hall. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa took off for Europe this month, at the taxpayer cost of $120,000. Councilwoman Jan Perry has pretty much defended the city's $3.2 million cost for helping Staples Center put on its Michael Jackson memorial and television special in July. And city council members still make a higher salary than any other city officials in America -- even more than what's slated for the governor of California.
Let them eat debt, they seem to be saying. At least City Attorney Carmen Trutanich has a clue. He's threatened the owner of Staples Center over the $3.2 million. And now he's going after city business that owe as much as $280 million in back and unpaid taxes.
His efforts have brought the city $1.5 million in the last six months alone, a 57 percent increase in such collections compared to the same half of 2008, states his office.
"We're definitely ramping up our efforts and leaving no stone unturned when it comes to revenue that's owed to the city,'' said City Attorney's office spokesman Frank Mateljan. "We're not going to let up at all."
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The money will go into the very thirsty general fund, which is $98 million under water and likely to be $400 million in the red by the next fiscal year. The office is targeting business taxes, parking occupancy taxes, telephone taxes, and transient occupancy taxes.